[-empyre-] Welcome to May: Boredom: Labor, Use and Time

B. Bogart ben at ekran.org
Fri May 15 09:57:52 AEST 2015


Murat,

I appreciate your comments and challenges and think they enrich
discussion. I fear sometimes that we could easily slide into dominating
the list as we define and redefine in more and more detail. Of course
it is important to do, but sometimes breadth is preferable to depth! In
particular I would like to hear more from Lyn and Emilie on the
meditation side of the discussion.

In light of these points I'll respond to your question and pick an
additional single point.

You ask:
> A side question: since the sun rises every morning, is it boring? By
>  our discussion of boredom until this moment, shouldn't it be?

Very good question. I think the answer is related to how we experience
the sun. If we say we learn the cycles of the sun through brightness,
then there is much more going on, dark indoor buildings (with artificial
light), different brightness due to weather and season, etc. that
complicates the matter. I wonder if someone used to living in the same
place outdoors for long periods has the same experience of day/night...
We city dwellers are good at ignoring it to some extent. There is also
the scale. When I think of prediction I largely think of the next
behaviour, social interaction, etc. 24 hours is quite far in the future
for prediction. Technically, our circadian clocks are actually
predictors of the sunrise / sunset (or they would be without the
complications described above). I think the sunrise would qualify as
'boring', in particular if it was the only think you paid attention to.

I realized something I may not have made explicit earlier. The
predictions I speak of are unconscious. So there is a problem here with
the sense of boring as conscious and the sense of boring as unconscious
predictability. I think they are probably closely related, but not the
same. I would say that unconscious predictions matching reality
perfectly set the stage for conscious boredom, but again there is this
question of attention and abstraction.

You later note:
> I feel (perhaps I am being unfair) that the discussions on boredom 
> have been too result oriented, affected by the ethos of efficiency.

I can see that. Perhaps by considering boredom in relation to
non-boredom (task orientation), we are already biasing the discussion.
This is why the notion of mind wandering as "default" interests me so
much; I think it's interesting to think of task-orientation as the
exception, rather than the rule. I am a little biased to thinking about
function though, which is certainly related to 'results'.

You conclude with:
> Boredom is a word like justice, becoming more complex (descending on 
> the ladder of abstraction), more ambiguous, less clear, riddled with 
> exception the more one studies it.

I totally agree with this! It is interesting we have played with
different definitions of boredom without focusing on a rigorous
conception, I suppose a implicit sense of breadth over depth.

Ben


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